If teams shied away from making a posting bid on Yu Darvish because they didn’t want to spend the money on the fee and then to sign him to a contract, then okay.
If they weren’t impressed with his abilities, fine.
If they were legitimately concerned that he wouldn’t transition well, fair enough.
If they examined the past successes and failures of big name pitchers who came over from Japan—Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Irabu and even Kei Igawa—and decided the risk wasn’t worth the reward, I won’t quibble.
But if teams came up with the simplistic argument that because Darvish is coming over from Japan and the aforementioned pitchers were disappointing that he wasn’t worth a serious look, it’s a ridiculous and illogical case doomed to haunt those who, like me, believe strongly in Darvish’s potential.
Would any GM or scout in his right mind look at a pitcher from Ohio and say he wasn’t interested in him because of the failure of a pitcher from Florida if there were no similarities between them other than they were from the United States?
No. It would be seen as ludicrous and they wouldn’t be in their jobs for very long.
But that’s exactly the argument given when the Yankees–for example—are said to have been stung by Irabu and Igawa and weren’t going to go crazy for Darvish because of those pitchers.
Irabu was a pet project of George Steinbrenner who forced his way to the Yankees; he was hyped incessantly and the expectations were so stifling that no one could’ve lived up to them; Irabu had talent, but he needed to be allowed to grow accustomed to the big leagues without pressure from the media and ownership if he wasn’t spectacular immediately.
Igawa was a response by the Yankees to the Red Sox getting Matsuzaka. I’m convinced that they heard his name, maybe—maybe—looked at his stats and some tape and signed him without knowing what they were getting.
I’d hate the think the Yankees were employing talent evaluators who saw Igawa and decided to invest $46 million in him.
Yu Darvish is not Matsuzaka; he’s not Irabu; he’s not Igawa.
It’s the same thing as saying that because Francisco Cervelli and Wilson Ramos were both born in Valencia Carabobo, Venezuela that they’re the same talent and shouldn’t be viewed as anything other than that.
Why compare Darvish to the pitchers that came over and failed? Why not compare him to Hiroki Kuroda? To Takashi Saito? To other Far Eastern players Chien-Ming Wang and Chan Ho Park? Pitchers who’ve done well?
His pitching has nothing in common with them either, but at least they were good.
Staying away from Darvish makes sense if that’s what scouts and financial freedom say is the smart thing to do, but to dismiss him because of his Japanese League pedigree is stereotypical stupidity at its lowest.